It’s official: Dust 514 is released… not that it really means anything. As far as I’m concerned, Dust launched as soon as open beta started. This rings true when you take into account that there was no character wipe between open beta and launch, but I digress. With this latest patch, all sorts of new toys and activities have been added. Let’s delve into everyone’s favorite first: new weapons.
The first weapon on the docket is the Flaylock Pistol. The Minmatar’s answer to a sidearm, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from the rust-heads. The Flaylock is essentially a handheld rocket launcher, firing one-inch dumbfire missiles. The description of the weapon mentions a variant with seeking missiles, but as far as I could find this has yet to be added. In terms of combat effectiveness, the Flaylock fills a similar role as the Scrambler Pistol. When aimed properly, both of these weapons can be devastating. However, if you miss you’re naturally in trouble. The key with the Flaylock is to make sure your aim is true.
The next weapon is the Plasma Cannon. This weapon is essentially the Mass Driver’s big brother. A single-round, area of effect weapon, the Plasma Cannon is best used on large groups of infantry. Having used this weapon, I’m not entirely sold on it. The weapon has a slightly arced firing trajectory, but the arcing feels a bit unnatural. Combined with the oddly shaped targeting reticule, the plasma cannon is difficult to use. If you’re able to connect with you target, odds are they will be taken out. This thing hits like a truck, with the lowest tier version being able to nearly one-shot almost any suit type with a direct hit. However, the trick is being able to score a direct hit.
The final weapon added is the long awaited Scrambler Rifle. Arguably the most anticipated of the three new weapons, the rifle seems a bit lack luster considering the hype it received. An Amarrian weapon, the Scrambler Rifle devours shields. What’s more, it is able to both fire rapidly and charge up a shot for extra damage, similar to the Charge Sniper Rifle. My personal experience with the rifle has mostly been on the receiving end. In brief, this weapon will lay you out if it catches you unaware. There have been several occasions where I had been one-shotted from behind by a charged bolt from a scrambler rifle.
New Game Mode
Apart from new implements of death for us to play with, the May 14th patch brought us a new type of game mode: Domination. This mode is similar to king of the hill in other games, with both teams vying for control of a single immobile objective. The result is a massive fire-fight surrounding the point. It is possible to beat your opponent back to their redline, as there are two permanent spawn points to choose from. If your adversary doesn’t have the presence of mind to deploy drop uplinks, you can easily box them in if you team is properly coordinated.
An interesting side-effect of this game mode is that it turns into an ISK sink. With the highly concentrated battle locations, death is quick and frequent. With a battle’s payout averaging around 200k ISK, it is easy to lose money overall when you are running expensive fits and dying eight times a match. I suspect this is a strategy to ensure fewer people are running the most expensive gear and weapons, as it could easily become financially unsound. Of course, there are plenty of ways around this sink, the simplest of which is to not play Domination.
Easily the addition with the farthest reaching impact on the game, Planetary Conquest will allow Dust mercs to conquer planetary districts. Initially limited to temperate planets in the Molden Heath region, Planetary Conquest is planned for all of non-faction warfare lowsec. Almost immediately after downtime, all of the districts were claimed, mostly by the more prominent and wealth Dust corps. As of now, 228 of the 250 available districts are under attack, meaning that come the 15th there are going to be a lot of dead clones up in Molden Heath. Exciting times in the Dust universe lie ahead.